Rip subtitles with SubRip

This is a guide for those who prefer DivX ripping over SVCD ripping and belong to the growing number of people who think that dubbing is the 8th deadly sin (which it is). And as most of us don't have the language skills to understand Crouching Tiger (Chinese) or Life is Beautiful (Italian) in their original languages. So, the solution is to make selectable subtitle files that can be used alongside with the ripped DivX movie.

In this guide we're going to use SubRip to rip the subtitles. SubRip is nice little tool that allows us to convert imagemap-only subtitles that are on DVD discs into pure text format, which will take only couple of kilobytes of space after completed.


We are going to assume now that you have already ripped your original DVD to your HDD and probably have already converted it to DivX as well. If not, you can find instructions for this process from this URL. Now, you should have your ripped VOB files on your HDD -- if not, you need to rip them again (instructions for basic ripping, using nothing but SmartRipper in order to get the VOBs to your HDD, can be found from virtually all of our backup guides, for example from here). If that's fine, then you need this tool to rip the subtitles:



As subtitles are stored as images on DVD-Video discs, they tend to take quite a lot of precious space if we just simply copy them as images to our HDDs and bundle with DivX clips. This is especially problematic when people try to make average quality 1CD DivX movies and want to have subtitles on same CD as well -- more space the subtitles take, less space there is for video and worse the video quality.

So, SubRip tries to recognize characters off from images and store them in plain text format, such as .srt subtile format. But this requires work from you as well -- SubRip doesn't actually recognize characters, but you have to do this for it. Luckily it "learns" every time you teach it a new characters. So, nornally after first few translated sentences, the input required from you decreases dramatically.

Open ripped VOB files

First thing you need to do, is to select Open VOB(s) from File menu. This opens up a new window that allows you to locate the ripped VOB files from your HDD and select the subtitle language you wish to rip.

Click Open Dir button and locate the directory that contains the ripped VOB files. Select any of the VOB files and click Open, then SubRip should select the rest of the VOB files for you automatically (if you kept the Autoselect all VOBs ticked -- and you should).

Next select your desired language from the Language stream dropdown menu. Leave Characters matrix file as it is (you can use this to save recognized character data, but as all DVDs have different character types, this is normally useless selection, unless you decide to rip the same movie's subtitles again). Then make sure that SubPictures to Text via OCR is selected as this is the selection which makes us small and nice text subtitles instead of pictures. Leave also Last TimeCode untouched as this normally doesn't need to be changed.

If you want to use some subtitle format other than .srt, you need to click the "camera icon" -- if you're happy with .srt, you don't need to do this. Normally you should use .srt as your format as it is very well supported by virtually all subtitle tools. Only case when I ever need to change this is when I want to create a DVD-R movie collection with subtitles and want to use authoring software to do this -- SubRip supports DVD authoring tools' subtitle formats; these include DVDMaestro and Scenarist.

Start ripping the subtitles

Now simply click Start to launch the subtitle ripping process. SubRip normally pops up a new window after this that asks you to confirm the subtitle color. Normally the default color is okay and you can continue simply by clicking OK.

Next thing what you should see is a window that has first line of text showing and the first character is within red box. SubRip now needs you to tell it what this character is. Enter the character's value into the box and click OK to get the next character. You simply notice that the characters you've recognized once will be normally skipped after the first recognition. Very quickly the ripping process will go very rapidly.

Please note that when SubRip finds an italics character, you should tick the italics box for this character. This way SubRip can recognize regular characters from italics characters. Same applies to underlined and bold fonts.

Sometimes there are symbols that are just plain useless and you can use Skip this subpicture button to jump over these symbols.

Final modifications

Now the ripping process should be completed -- for me it normally takes around 10mins to rip subtitles, but this obviously depends on movie and how fast you're using SubRip as well :-) You might want to make some small modifications to the subtitle file now. For many PAL movies SubRip tends to show incorrect framerate for the subtitle files -- you might want to change this to match the correct PAL value of 25.000 instead of FILM's 23.976. There are also several other little tweaks you can do here, such as splitting the subtitle file into two parts -- these are relatively easy to do and wont be covered here.

Now simply click the "disk icon" and save the subtitle file to your HDD. I recommend that you use this method to select the subtitle filename: Use the exact same name for your .avi and for your .srt files, such as "Movie name is written like this.avi" and "Movie name is written like". By using this method and storing the subtitle and AVI files into same directory, virtually all subtitle-capable video players will recognize the subtitle files and play them automatically with AVI.


Now you have subtitles that take normally less than 100kb of HDD space and can be split/edited/fixed/time adjusted/etc very easily afterwards. If you use some of the regular Windows' video players, such as Windows Media Player 6.4 (like most of us do :-), you need to download a DirectShow filter that will add subtitle support to Windows. There are two good tools for this: DivXG400 and DirectVobSub (included inside VobSub's package). Read their readme.txt's and you should be able to figure out the rest. Remember what I said about the naming conventions earlier -- same name for AVI and subtitle file makes it easy for video players.

Version history

  • v1.0 (21st September, 2002) -- First version published. dRD

Written by: Petteri Pyyny